Monday, August 31, 2015

TV Show Review: Castle - Season 7

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: More laughs, great characters, and clues
Cons: Anything connected to Castle’s disappearance
The Bottom Line:
Horrid storyline
Only dark points in season
Show still mostly strong

“You Still Remind Me a Little of Hooch.”

I still don’t know what the writers were thinking at the end of season 6 of Castle.  That cliffhanger?  It was downright stupid.  Some fans were so incensed that they didn’t tune in to see how season 7 would deal with that.

It was their mistake.

Now I will be the first to say that anything related to Castle’s disappearance (the new “mythology” since Beckett’s mother’s murder had been resolved as of the end of season six) was poorly handled mainly because it was a stupid thing to happen.  However, the rest of the season?  Some of the best stuff we’ve seen in a long time.  The humor was great, the characters were awesome, and the mysteries…okay, the mysteries were as formulaic as ever.  But really, this was a great season.

While the season premier started off exactly where the last finale left off as everyone tries to figure out just what happened to Castle on his wedding day, we quickly jumped a head a few months to when author Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) was found floating on a boat in the ocean with no memory of the time he was missing.  All this time, his fiancée Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) has not stopped looking for him.  While it takes a bit for the two of them to adjust to the big questions in their lives, they quickly get back into the rhythm of their relationship.

And that relationship continues to constitute solving murders under Captain Victoria Gates (Penny Johnson Jerald) at the twelfth precinct.  Working alongside them are Detectives Esposito (Jon Huertas) and Ryan (Seamus Dever) as well as medical examiner Lanie Parish (Tamala Jones).  And what a variety of cases they have.  There’s a pool shark killed by a mysterious force.  Castle goes undercover with a group of second graders to find a killer.  Castle gets involves with a group of action actors after an 80’s action star is killed.  The 3XK killer is back, or is he?  They even get to solve a murder on Mars – well sort of.

On the home front, Castle and Beckett do tie the knot this season before honeymooning to a guest ranch in Arizona (okay, so they are really under cover on the case although they had gotten married).  Castle’s daughter Alexis (Molly C. Quinn) continues her college education while his mother Martha (Susan Sullivan) gets a break in her acting career comeback and even considers moving out.

You’ll notice earlier that I compared Castle’s disappearance to Beckett’s mother’s murder.  Many fans who were watching the show complained that it wasn’t explained in the first few episodes of the season.  Honestly, I wasn’t expecting that.  I figured they’d drag it out as long as they could, just like the six seasons it took us to resolve the cold case Beckett murder.  However, since it wasn’t clear until May whether the show would be back or not, they actually did wrap things up, just late in the season.  There might be one or two things still unexplained, but if they never bring it up again, that’s fine with me.  I’d much rather forget it ever happened.  Likewise, the actually wedding of Beckett and Castle was nice in some ways (their vows) and disappointing in other (the cheesy CGI backdrop, only Martha and Alexis as guests).  Still, overall, I did like it.

But if when we start looking at the cases of the week, we find a show that is still in fine form.  Oh, as I mentioned, the mysteries are formulaic, but they are just excuses to visit the characters.  The banter between them is as sharp as ever, and I laughed at many lines this season.  Furthermore, Castle starts contributing things to solving the case as a writer again, something we’ve been missing since probably season 3.  I had enjoyed his different take on the cases early on in the show’s run, and I was thrilled to see that back again.  There’s even more about his writing career and several mentions of the latest Nikki Heat novel – again things I enjoyed in early seasons we’ve been missing recently.  We also got great growth in all the characters as the season progressed.  Truly, there was much to love here.  Heck, I even enjoyed an arc mid-season that found Castle investigating cases on his own as a private eye.

The actors contributed some of their best work this season as well.  Whether it is a lighter moment or one of the more serious episodes, the acting was always perfect, making me get lost in the world of the series.

As I mentioned, the renewal came in very late, so the season finale was crafted as a potential series finale.  Honestly, if the show had ended here, I would have been happy.  It was a satisfying final scene.  Having said that, I am thrilled the show will be back and can’t wait to see what happens to the characters next.

This season of Castle consisted of 23 episodes, and all of them are preserved in this six disc set in their native wide screen and full surround sound.  In addition to the episodes themselves, we get two audio commentaries with various cast and crew, one of the season premier and one on the second half of the February two parter.  Other fun extras include Ryan and Esposito’s music video and Castle’s webmercial for Raging Heat and well as the standard bloopers and deleted scenes. 

Yes, everything connected to Castle’s disappearance was bad.  I will never pretend otherwise.  But the majority of the episodes in season 7 are still winners.  Fans of Castle will love having those moments in their collections.  And if you’ve missed them, get the set today and enjoy them for the first time.

Season 7 Episodes:
1. Driven
2. Montreal
3. Clear & Present Danger
4. Child’s Play
5. Meme is Murder
6. The Time of Our Lives
7. Once Upon a Time in the West
8. Kill Switch
9. Last Action Hero
10. Bad Santa
11. Castle, P.I.
12. Private Eye Caramba!
13. I, Witness
14. Resurrection
15. Reckoning
16. The Wrong Stuff
17. Hong Kong Hustle
18. At Close Range
19. Habeas Corpse
20. Sleeper
21. In Plane Sight
22. Dead from New York
23. Hollander’s Woods

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